Tag Archives: teaching

It Won’t Be The Same

Our librarian posted an article with links to a TEA letter to districts that we need to prepare for school to be different next year.

At first I was upset. This has been hard. Maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done as an educator.

What we’re doing isn’t true distance learning. We’re in crisis mode emotionally, physically, spiritually. This pandemic is not something we can just power through. Our kids are working more than ever, babysitting, trying to focus, dealing with crappy Internet, sharing technology with siblings, dealing with the repercussions of parents’ lost jobs.

All of this has been a giant shock to the system.

BUT

Next year we can prepare.

We can look at best practices and work together to develop strategies for success. Educators can learn content delivery systems and how to use our tech resources.

School can’t be what it’s always been in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Online education can’t be the same as what we do in class. A mix of distance learning and in class learning can’t be the same. The same is simply not.

But what we do can still be solid.

It won’t be easy.

All those shocks to the system are still a thing. We won’t magically solve the social issues the pandemic made glaringly obvious. But we can do school.

And like our librarian said, we have the opportunity to make lasting change.

Link to article with TEA guidance.

Time is Different

This is not normal. This is not okay. This is a crisis and we’re all dealing with it the best we can. Teachers, parents, kids, admin, counselors, all of us. We’re all in this together and it’s okay that it sucks. But we have to make the best of it because we have no choice. I learned this from a Facebook post this morning. Sometimes Facebook is a good thing.

Learned this week: Distance learning is NOT like regular class time. Time flies and everything takes longer than class time. The systems set up for my yearbook class have to be redundant. That’s not bad. It’s just time consuming.

I have to remember this because next week I have to MOVE. Breaks have to be planned or I won’t do them. I won’t even think about them until hours have passed because it doesn’t feel like hours until it’s over.

It’s Friday. I’m tired. More tired than I’ve ever been in my entire teaching career. I miss my kids and my teacher friends. I’m a strong believer in protecting your personal time, but there’s no time for personal time right now.

I can’t imagine doing this with kids at home. But I see a lot of people doing it and doing it well. That’s amazing.

Comparison is a Joy Thief

If you would have told me social media was going to make me hurt over teaching in the time of Corona, I would have said you were crazy.

But it’s happening.

I’m a mess and there are all these videos and ideas and lessons and shout outs and “We Did Its” and rah-rah-yay! moments and all I can think is WTF?!?! And then I’m in the guilt spiral of why can’t I just be happy for people instead of self-critical about my lack of Yay! And then I’m in a guilt spiral over the guilt spiral over the guilt spiral.

I’m a mess.

But it will get better.

I love you yay people. I’m just not there. I hope I will be. I like being a yay person. This has been a year of non-yay, and that was before Corona. Dang menopause.

Teenagers, Teenagers

Spent today with teenagers who chose to give up their Saturday to compete in UIL Academics.

People trash talk teenagers all the time. But you know what? Young people make me happy.

They believe absolutely that they can do almost anything unless that belief has been sucked out of them. They will defend their beliefs with research and a well thought out argument. They are kind and caring and considerate, and they often reach out when they see someone hurting or alone. Even if they don’t know that someone.

They are smart! When I was in school we had to take math. Not Algebra. Math. And science? Physical Science and Biology. Social studies and English weren’t even required four years. Sure, some kids did more. But you didn’t have to to graduate. These kids take tons of tough classes and still work and juggle busy electives AND give up their weekends for UIL.

People talk about teen attitudes, and yeah, they can roll their eyes so far into the backs of their heads I wonder about their health. But you know what? Go hang out on twitter for more than five minutes. You’ll see they’re just in training.

Teenagers are great. Glad I got to spend my Saturday with a few.

School, School, The Golden Rule

I loved school from the start even though it didn’t always love me.

In Bald Knob at 5, I think, I got in trouble for singing off key on purpose. It’s the only thing I remember about being in school there except the time I accidentally stayed on the bus and was scared I’d never get home.

In first grade in Minnesota I couldn’t read even though everyone else in my class could. But I didn’t feel like a failure. I felt special because I got to sit at a little cubicle desk and use a film strip about dinosaurs to help me learn phonics. I never doubted I’d get to the circles, and I was determined to get to blue.

When we moved to Texas I liked learning, and I even got over the time my teacher screeched and threw my paper in the trash because I’d written “in the margin.” She didn’t define margin. I thought she meant the side with the holes. It seemed silly to me to lose all that great space on the side without holes.

The worst I felt was because my handwriting never quite measured up to that of the girls who stood at the board and showed off their penmanship with pretty curlicues and hearts to dot the perfect i. But I loved school.

I loved school until junior high when a math teacher crushed my world every single day by telling me it was dumb that I couldn’t do simple algebra.

But in high school a new math teacher helped me see the teacher was the one with the problem not me.

Monday I go back to school for the second semester of my 25th year teaching. During meditation today my brain kept drifting to everything that needs to be done and things I want to address and how excited I am to see the kids but how sad I’ll be to lose this time. That’s what this break has given me more than anything. Time to breathe, to play, to reflect, to just be.

I’ll miss this break. But I still love school.

What I’m loving right now: The Daily Calm meditation, The Young and the Restless, my down comforter, the Dallas Stars, Tyler Seguin’s answers on the Tyler Seguin show on the Ticket.

What I’m writing: So Much For Happily Ever After. (Hit 48k last night at group!)

Focus On The New

Today’s Daily Calm worked so perfectly with what I’m reading in Atomic Habits. So often in the new year we focus on the old instead of the new. On what we’re going to fix instead of on the process we will incorporate to get what we want.

It’s interesting how often that message has been hammered home to his week. Last night Seguin scored, and after the game the reporter asked him about finally making that goal. He said he was going to continue his focus on the process and not the outcome. That’s important. He’s an elite level athlete and that focus is essential.

I want to bring the process focus to all areas of my life.

I love the Daily Calm app and meditation.

What I’m Loving: again, the DoTERRA On Guard mouthwash (for real, you should try it), Dallas Stars hockey, my writing group, The Daily Calm, holiday FaceTime dates with DD and granddaughter.

What I’m Writing: So Much for Happily Ever After

Breaks Are Easy

I love that winter break has so many days after Christmas this year. Before Christmas and right after things are always so busy. This extra time gives tons of space for rest and binge watching Beachfront Bargain Hunters. 😊

I’ve learned so much about me this year, some completely unexpected and not all of it what I wanted.

But that’s okay.

One of the most important things I’ve learned since starting meditation: tilting my lips up in a slight smile creates a positive physical response. For real. There’s this little ball of positivity that goes through my face and neck and settles in my chest. It’s so weird.

It’s easy to tilt my lips up when I’m mid-break. I know that. It will be interesting to see how it goes during the school year.

One thing I know for sure: I need meditation in my life.

What I’m reading: Atomic Habits

What I’m writing: So Much for Happily Ever After

What I’m loving: STILL DoTERRA On Guard mouthwash (no really! You should try it!), the Dallas Stars, HGTV, LCHF eating

Part the Waters

This time of year is almost always tough in the yearbook advising business. Adding the weight of more school shootings, an awful flu season, the Texas political situation and its impacts educators and their healthcare, and a plethora of life’s emotional dings has made the last six weeks so tough.

Seriously.

This week has pushed and pushed and finally I felt like breaking.

In that moment as I sat in my classroom during my conference looking at what all has to be done and trying to find a plan to make it happen, I looked up and said, Jesus Help.

When I spoke those words I felt so completely broken and yet so completely sure that whatever else happens, God’s got me and I’ve got Him.

Within a couple of hours several little things happened to help relieve some of my worry.

I believe in the miraculous power of God. I believe the biggest miracle of all is God’s unending grace. I believe God had a hand in showing me yet again that if I turn to Him in my always those break down moments don’t have to be so all encompassing.

Yesterday nothing huge changed in the day to day business of a stressful final deadline when deadlines have been a struggle all year. There was no physical “Part the Waters” moment. But that moment of prayer and the peace that came after…the psychological and emotional sense of peace and comfort…it was beautiful.

I’m sitting in my classroom now, and I know it’s going to be okay.

My prayer is this: Lord, help me to remember my why in the classroom instead of letting deadline become my focus. Help me to let go and let You, help me to rest assured in the knowledge that when things are overwhelming, I can turn to You, but I don’t have to wait until that moment. You are always even when I forget.

Opening lyrics to the song that I love so much: When I think I’m going under, part the waters, Lord

When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea

When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord

And hold out Your hand

Touch my life Still the raging storm in me

The kid who knows too little

The girl drove me crazy.

She always called me over, always wanted me to hold her hand and walk her through what to do. She’s in a huge class of students who…keep me on my toes. And she wanted my attention 100%.

The thing is she has a great eye, and she’s super creative, and she seems to be a good student. Except in my class. 

In my class she lost 30 photos. In my class she didn’t follow the step by step instructions printed on the sheet in front of her. In my class she wanted my every moment and that just wasn’t possible.

Frustration set in, on both our parts.

Until the middle of second six weeks when she asked a new question. So how do I make a new PowerPoint again? And the girl sitting next to her added, “What is an attachment?” And the one next to her said, “I never really used email before.”

And just like that I realized for weeks I’d been speaking a foreign language to these kids. And the “Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Lee,” girl was actually the brave one willing to ask the questions.

It took three class periods, but in the end they knew what to do, and now when they walk in the classroom, they do amazing work. We lost weeks because I let my frustration get in the way of finding the positive and I didn’t bother talking to and with them to see if I could understand what the heck was wrong.

Ugh.

Something to remember for next year.

Yes, you should be a teacher

Mrs. Lee, I’m thinking about being a teacher, but I just don’t know. What do you think?
My former students ask me this question pretty often. My answer has not changed even though education has.
Yes. Yes, you should be a teacher. No other job is as rewarding as awe-inspiring, as beautiful and life affirming as teaching.

Yes, teaching has changed, and yes, everything is more test centric. Despite that, teaching is still an incredible job.

Yes, kids curse and question authority and their phones will drive you crazy. Kids always cursed and questioned authority. It’s different now for a lot of reasons, but that’s not just an education issue. And the phones are crazy, but walk into any restaurant and look around. It’s the same everywhere, and it’s certainly not just the kids. We get to be part of teaching society how to use those phones successfully instead of letting them control our lives.
Yes, teaching hurts sometimes. When your kids lose parents or grandparents or get kicked out or live in a hotel or come to school dirty and hungry or get involved in the slippery slope of drugs and alcohol or go through bad breakups or fail their STAARs or get criticized and ridiculed for work they were proud of or wreck their cars or drop out–GOD, that last one hurts so bad–you bet it hurts. And that’s why you will be an amazing and wonderful teacher. Because it does hurt you and you will do everything in your power to help your kids through the tough stuff. 

Yes, politicians who are beholden to banks and other special interests will make you crazy. Yes, the politics of teaching can drag you down if you don’t let it energize you. Yes, you will sacrifice sleep and money and health. And still, yes, you should teach.
Unless, the only reason you’re thinking about teaching is the decent starting salary. Because if that’s it, no, no, no, no. You don’t want to teach for the money, I promise. 
Teaching is hard physically and emotionally. It takes everything you’ve got to do it well, and there will be days you suck it up in the classroom, and those days can have terrible consequences if you’re not immediately aware. You will go home Fridays and crash. You will spend hours (and sometimes $$$) on lessons that fall flat. You will lay sleepless in bed staring at the ceiling worrying about a kid in your class, you will ask for unspoken prayer requests for kids going through struggles that seem impossible.
You will gain weight if you are not extremely careful or blessed with great metabolism or someone who works out constantly. You will work sick and miss moments with your family. You will sit through meetings wondering why on earth they didn’t just send an email or read emails wondering why on earth they didn’t have a meeting. You’ll go through great new concept after great new concept after great new concept discarding the one that came before for the new until your head is spinning and you can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing.
And still, you should be a teacher.
Because yes, there is heartache and frustration, but there is so much more. You are changing the world, lighting a light, showing the way, challenging and enlightening and loving kids to success. And honestly, there is no better job in the world.

If you feel like maybe you want to teach, try and see. Give yourself three years to discover if the classroom is your calling. If it’s not, that’s okay too. You’ll still look back on your time with kids as an educational experience. If it is your calling, you have found an amazing life journey and the best job in the world. ❤️